By Greg Neyman
© 2010, Old Earth Ministries
First Published 30 March 2010
In a daily article for the Instutute for Creation Research website posted on 26 March 2010, science writer Brian Thomas uses a new fossil amphibian to question the long ages interpretation of the rock layers of the earth.1 The fossil species, "Fedexia strieglei is a two-foot-long, tusk-bearing amphibian that was found near a major airport in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The “Pennsylvanian” rock system in which it was found includes fern and wet-environment plant remains fossilized in massive coal seams."
What is really important in this article is not the amphibian itself, but the false claims by ICR about the rock layers. Thomas disputes the millions of years age of the Pennsylvanian rock layers in question. He does so, not with scientific studies about the rock layers, but by unsubstantiated references to claims that the rock layers were built by Noah's Flood. The references are all from young earth creationist publications. He states "what if these rock units do not correspond to vast 'ages' at all, but instead to vast, catastrophically deposited ecological habitats?"
Instead of addressing the scientific evidence for the age of the rocks in question, he first claims that 18th-century French anatomist Georges Cuvier assumed that such rocks were very old, and this assumption (implied) has carried through to today's scientists.
He then quotes young earther John Reed, who questions the dangers of the "vast age" assumption of Cuvier and other scientists. Thomas says this "artifact-driven emphasis for historical investigation replaced reliance on written narratives (the Bible, interpreted as young-earth).
He tops it off with a quote from another young earther, Gary Parker, who claims that the geologic layers are eco-sedimentary zones, the remains of various ecological groups living in the pre-Flood world. He states "the waters of Noah's Flood may have finally reached the drier continental interior, where dinosaurs presumably lived, sometime before the 150th day or so of the Flood year." As Thomas states, this is to account for the fact that all dinosaur fossils are above the Pennsylvanian age rocks of this amphibian.
Please note that in all the claims above, no science is used to refute the ages of the rock layer that contains the Fedexia fossil. They only infer a possible scenario based on a young earth interpretation of the flood rocks...not based on actual scientific data.
When Did the Animals Die?
According to Genesis 7:11, the flood started on the seventeenth day of the second month of the six hundreth year of Noah's life. Thus, the "150th" day of the flood year, which they claim was about the time the waters reached the dinosaurs, would have been about the end of the fifth month (assuming 30 days per month). Since the flood started on the 17th day of the second month, the rain, which lasted 40 days, would have ended on about the 27th day of the third month. In other words, the water reached the dinosaurs about 63 days after the rain stopped.
A normal interpretation of the flood account is that the rains lasted 40 days and flooded the earth, at which point the animals and people were dead. Thus, this is an important new shift in young earth theory, towards some animals living several months past the time when the rain stopped. But is this Biblical? Most Christians, myself included, have always felt that the animals in question were killed by the end of the 40 days. It is interesting now that young earth creationist thinkers are changing their claims to make it fit more in line with the fossil distribution in the rocks.
The young earth method that explains the coal layers of the earth is the floating forest theory. This theory has been thoroughly debunked, and you can read about this in the article The Floating Forest Theory Sinks. At this time, there are no alternative young earth explanations for coal layers.
Carbon-14 in Millions of Years old Coal
Finally, Thomas states the old young earth claim about millions of years old coal layers that contain carbon-14. Given the short half-life of carbon-14, young earth proponents have claimed that rocks that are millions of years old should contain no carbon-14. Their main resource, once you trace their references, is a paper by YEC John Baumgardner,2 which relies upon carbon dating done by a group of four YEC theorists.3 These sources have been rebutted by scientists. In short, there can be measurable amounts of carbon-14 in rocks due to other reasons. New carbon-14 is formed from background radiaton in surrounding rocks. It can also come from the atmosphere, which can contaminate samples. Carbon-14 can also be added from sulfur bacteria, which grows in coal, from groundwater that seeps through the rock layers, and from Whewellite, which is a carbon-containing mineral that forms as coal chemically weathers.4
This article does not bring up any new scientific data to dispute the millions of years ages of the rock layers in question. Thomas tries to push an alternative explanation based on a global flood scenario, which includes the already disproven eco-sedimentary zones, and the already disproven carbon issue. This article represents a rehash of old young earth ideas, with nothing new. The fossil Fedexia really isn't an issue in this article at all. It merely provides a lead-in for Thomas to discuss the already disproven theories that he brings up.
It should be noted that the Fedexia fossil presents no problems when you interpret it within the context of old earth creationism. God created Fedexia about 300 million years ago. If we find more fossils of Fedexia, we can establish a date range during which it lived. Right now, little else is known about this species. If you want to know more about it, check out the news release about it from National Geographic.
1 Thomas, Brian, 'Fedex' Fossil Calls into Question the Age of Amphibians, ICR News, 26 March 2010.
Baumgardner, John, 2003. Carbon dating undercuts evolution's long
ages. Impact #364 (Oct.),
3 J. R. Baumgardner, D. R. Humphreys, A. A. Snelling, and S. A. Austin, "Measurable 14C in fossilized organic materials: Confirming the young earth creation/Flood model," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. E. Walsh, Editor, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 127-142, 2003.
4 Carbon-14 in Coal Deposits, by Kathleen Hunt, University of Washingon.
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